The months of February to April are always busy for the hearing industry. It's the time when all of the hearing aid manufacturers release new products, featuring the latest and greatest technology for aiding people in their quest for better hearing.
As suppliers of hearing devices from all leading manufacturers, for us it is a time for attending product launch events and attempting to bend our heads around the new product names, technological advances, software updates, accessory compatibility, ordering, and so on...
The major focus this year appears to be Connectivity, Flexibility and (no prizes for this one) Conversation in Noise.
Here are a few of my favourites so far:
Phonak have launched their new Venture platform with their range of Audéo Receiver-in-Canal and Bolero Behind-the-Ear hearing aids. Think of a new platform as the jump from iPhone 5 to iPhone 6; it's a complete make-over, from the hearing aid look and technology, to the wireless accessories.
The housing has moved towards more ergonomic designs, and there is an addition to the family: the V-13 RIC (size 13 battery).
The premium level hearing aids are now sporting 7 automatic environments, with the addition of "Speech in Car" and "Comfort in Echo". Their "Speech in Loud Noise" and "Music" program has also been improved for easier listening and natural musical sound. These programs may be accessed manually in the lower level devices.
New accessories include the ComPilot Air II - a much awaited Bluetooth gateway device with NO neckloop, the DECT II - a cordless landline phone which streams directly into your hearing aids, and the EasyCall which plugs into any Bluetooth enabled mobile phone for direct streaming.
Visit: http://www.phonak.com/au/b2c/en/products.html for more information.
Following on from the success of the LiNX made-for-iPhone hearing aids, ReSound has delivered the LiNX2 in their range of RIC and BTE aids (pictured above). Featuring their trademark SurroundSound technology, these aids boast seamless adaptation to your sound environment to immerse you in natural sound, maximising speech audibility without compromising perception of ambient sound. Think of it as the difference between watching TV normally, and watching TV in a home theatre with surround sound. The durability of the RIC receivers has been improved, and the addition of a size-13 RIC for improved battery life rounds this portfolio out nicely.
One real perk for these aids is their connectivity. Tech heads out there can stream mobile calls and music directly from an iPhone (5 or higher), iPad or iPod touch. They also have a Smart App, which can be used to completely customise your hearing aid settings - bass/treble, volume/mute, noise management, wind noise reduction and microphone directionality - and set favourites that can be selected at the push of a button, or linked to a Place, for automatic switching when you enter that location. For coping with an active lifestyle and highly variable listening environments, I really can't fault these aids. The Smart App is also compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S5 for Android lovers.
Visit: http://www.resound.com/en-AU/hearing-aids for more information.
An honourable mention goes to Unitron because they have a really great portfolio from the lower end, right up into the premium products. Like Phonak, Unitron have launched a new platform this year called North. At this stage it is available in their Moxi RIC aids only, with the BTEs to follow later.
The award-winning Moxi Kiss design is still available, with the tried-and-true Moxi Dura (higher durability and size 13 battery). The new member of the family is the Moxi Fit, which has a tidy, sleek design while maintaining functionality with a push button.
Technology-wise, rather than focusing on audibility in loud noise, Unitron have concentrated their efforts on recognising 4 different "Conversation" scenarios - conversation in quiet, a small group, a crowd and in noise, plus programs for "Quiet" and "Noise" without speech, and "Music". The Pro range will switch automatically between all of these programs, and they may be accessed individually via button or remote in the lower levels.
Another feature which has been around for a while and is as yet completely unique to Unitron, is their Flex platform. This allows you to purchase software upgrades in your existing hearing aids which may be performed simply during your appointment with your Audiologist.
How is this helpful?
Scenario 1: You purchase your hearing aids on a budget and opt for something low-end to get you going as you're not sure how much you're going to use them. 1 year later, you find that you're relying on them more and more and you feel that you'd like something more sophisticated for those particularly challenging situations. Flex allows you to upgrade, without fronting up the cost of a whole new set of hearing aids.
Scenario 2: You're ready for hearing aids and you want something good, but you want to be sure that the benefits of the higher tech is worth the cost and you don't know where to start. We have "Flex Trial" aids available so that you can try any technology level for up to 4 weeks at a time, allowing plenty of time to assess the benefits for yourself. Once you have made up your mind, we can order your aids in, transfer the programming over from the trial devices, and send you on your way confident that you've made the right choice (and knowing that you can still change your mind later).
If you are in the market and looking to give some of these new aids or upgrades a try, don't hesitate to get in touch and organise a free trial.
We hope to hear from you soon!